How do we determine "Classic"?


Original Post
B-Mkll Mackall · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 1,466

Been getting more and more perturbed lately with the fact that three of the top ten "classic routes" according to the MP route guide homepage are in Eldo. Three are also in Moab, true, but to think that 3 of the top ten classic routes in thr United States truly reside in one very small climbing area seems silly.

Thoughts on how MP determines "classics"? I am all for community sourcing of opinion to determine classic routes within individual areas but when it comes to our macro representation of the climbing within the greater US it seems to me we need to come up with a better system than what we have so that areas like Eldo, Yosemite, Gunks etc are not so overrepresented... There are routes in this country/continent that absolutely belong on the classics list (Durrance anyone?) but get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of MP users who climb Bastille Crack and rate it 4 stars.

4 star routes, and harder routes, will always be rated higher than routes that start with little to no stars, or are in the mid-range, with very few exceptions. Especially on a tick-based website. I'm just wondering if we can get a better, almost journalistic representation of the reality of climbing in North America so that Mountain Project can be seen as more authoritative.

That all being said.... the Suction route deserves #1.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Have you been to Eldo? Lol. The Bastille is definitely a classic, mobbed and polished or not.

You're right that since it's a tick-based system, it's going to skew the data in a particular way. Notice how almost all of the top 10 are under 5.10? I personally find it ridiculous that joke routes like the Trump tower and that wedding guy make it...has anyone actually climbed those?

The star system works really well for local areas. When you scale it up, it's basically going to show you the most trafficked areas...which isn't a bad indication (Eldo, Red Rock and Yosemite are heavily trafficked for a reason!). The one exception I would say is the Gunks. While it's definitely a classic area, I think it is slightly over represented because it is so close to a major metropolitan area. That said, I haven't been there yet, but it's not somewhere people often go out of their way to visiting.

will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 215

Classic is a pretty subjective term and it sounds like you're suggesting that we replace the current system with one or a small group of individuals' view on what is classic. How about we just change the list to the top 20 most popular routes or we see it for what it is-a tick based list of climbs. Why does MP need to be more authoritative? Why does there need to be a definitive list of the most classic climbs in the US. I use the star ratings at a particular crag to help guide my decisions of what routes to get on the first time I visit an area, but I'm probably not going to look at the top 20 list and make the decision for my next roadtrip based on it (actually I think I visited all those areas and did most of those climbs before I used MP very much).

B-Mkll wrote:Durrance anyone?
Not a bad route, but if it wasn't the easiest route of Devil's Tower and on the "50 Classics" list I'm not sure it would get so much attention.
Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

I've thought about this to myself countless times. How the Bastille crack and the naked edge could be in the same list drives me crazy. To me, the durance is the Bastille of Devils head. It has one great pitch, 2 if you don't link em. All others are forgettable. There are way better climbs at the tower.

North chimney but not the north face? Come on.

East face of the 3rd? I guess if you have to a broad spectrum of grades but the direct west face of the same rock is godly in comparison. But if you're talking best/most iconic climb in the flatiron, wouldn't you be pointing at the west overhang of the maiden?

Really? <100' single pitch climbs of Indian creek when lightning bolt cracks is a stones throw away?

No idea how a Moses route didn't make the cut.

The nose and RNWFHD I could see HAVE to be on there but I've never climbed either.

Fine jade and jah man deserve their spots. As do the casual route (but arguably more the yellow wall), stolen chimney and probably (never climbed it) epinephrine.

Basically, I'm in agreement. Eventually, mountain project with be THE encyclopedia of climbing and it's classic list should reflect reality. What historical significance or pure badassness does incredible hand crack represent?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Ummm...it's kind of the iconic example of pure IC style crack climbing.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200

All it does is concentrate people on certain climbs.

If your fave doesn't make the list consider yourself lucky the next time you go to it and there isn't a sh!t show top to bottom (literally).

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

The Top 10 Classics Routes
1. Suction Aid Route C4 R NY : New York City : Trump Tower
2. High Exposure 5.6 NY : The Gunks : The Trapps
3. Southeast Buttress 5.6 CA : Yosemite National Park : Tuolumne Meadows
4. The Bastille Crack 5.7 CO : Boulder : Eldorado Canyon SP
5. Rewritten 5.7 CO : Boulder : Eldorado Canyon SP
6. Epinephrine 5.9 NV : Red Rock : Black Velvet Canyon
7. The Yellow Spur 5.9+ CO : Boulder : Eldorado Canyon SP
8. Stolen Chimney 5.10 UT : Moab Area : Fisher Towers
9. Incredible Hand Crack 5.10 UT : Moab Area : Indian Creek
10. Supercrack of the Desert 5.10 UT : Moab Area : Indian Creek

Really you pay attention to this list at all? I mean come on all you have to do is look at what they call the top classic route and you know the entire list is crap. Honestly not even sure how they determine it but whatever it is, it has nothing to do with a route being classic, being popular / climbed alot. I think it would be better to rename it the top 10 troll list.

will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 215

Don,

So what criteria do you think should make something classic? From your post I inferred length, difficulty, history, badassness, but definitely not anything that's single pitch. I guess this is what I was trying to get at in my post, everyone seems to have a different idea of what defines classic and how do you balance all those factors to come up with a list of 10 or 20? Is it a combination of those factors or should we pick a route for historical significance and another one for difficulty. In general I see attempting to create a definitive list a fruitless endeavor, but I'm fine if the site owners want to post the data for what routes have the most ticks, highest star ratings, etc.

Many years ago I would have agreed with you about single pitch not being as classic, but I think my view on that has changed as I've gotten more into redpointing harder single pitch sport routes and also redpointing/headpointing sketchy single pitch gear routes. Sometimes putting in repeated efforts, breaking down all the moves, etc can make for a more memorable experience than romping up a long route doing every pitch onsight and never getting on it again. I guess an individual's experience can also affect the "classic" status of a climb.

Don Ferris wrote:Eventually, mountain project with be THE encyclopedia of climbing and it's classic list should reflect reality.
I'm interested to see how MP continues to change over the years, but based on past climbing websites (and the history of popular websites in general) I wouldn't bet money on it being around for the long haul.
Jon Marek · · Sioux Falls, SD · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 2,460

Viper's list has me thinking that it might be fun if MP sent out a survey for people to help create a top ten. For instance, I am one of the many people to rate some top-ten routes as four stars yet some of those routes might not make my top ten.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Maybe we could simply disaggregate the MP data a little more. Top 10 moderate multipitch, top 10 Sport routes, top 10 Boulder problems, etc. Comparing every grade, style, and length at once is sort of pointless.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136
Ted Pinson wrote:Maybe we could simply disaggregate the MP data a little more. Top 10 moderate multipitch, top 10 Sport routes, top 10 Boulder problems, etc. Comparing every grade, style, and length at once is sort of pointless.
this.
Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0
will ar wrote:Don, So what criteria do you think should make something classic? From your post I inferred length, difficulty, history, badassness, but definitely not anything that's single pitch. I guess this is what I was trying to get at in my post, everyone seems to have a different idea of what defines classic and how do you balance all those factors to come up with a list of 10 or 20?
That's where I always get stuck with in my internal dialogue. That's just MY opinion. That's MY classics. Don't get me wrong, I love single pitch hard sport for all the reasons you listed. I look forward to my yearly creek trip. But if I was to come up with a list of climbs a serious climber should attempt before the big dirt nap, shelf road, rifle, clear creek, etc, probably wouldn't make the cut. Don't get me wrong, those areas have tons of great climbs and I believe mark important stepping stones in ones climbing career but when you stack amazing pitch after amazing pitch on top of each other whether you onsight or not combined with the improbability and exposure of the route, using your skills physically and mentally to tackle the puzzles in front of you...it's just a whole other level...according to me. ;)
will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 215

Don, well said and maybe

Don Ferris wrote: That's MY classics.
is the way we should leave it. We can probably all come up with our own list to recommend to a friend and explain the context that makes them classic, but I think getting even a small group of climbers to agree on a list (much less the whole MP community) is a near impossible task.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
Ted Pinson wrote:Maybe we could simply disaggregate the MP data a little more. Top 10 moderate multipitch, top 10 Sport routes, top 10 Boulder problems, etc. Comparing every grade, style, and length at once is sort of pointless.
I see the entire "what is a classic" debate pointless; unless someone desperately needs a barstool style conversation.
Darren Mabe · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Dec 2002 · Points: 2,890

Consider that MP started as ClimbingBoulder.com over 15 years ago..

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

Question is do you want to list the top 10 classics by which ones get climbed the most, or which ones are most well known?

Regular Northwest Face is likely a climb that everyone knows and is really famous but I would bet alot more people are likely to have climbed snake dike than it due to difficulty. Both I guess would likely be considered classics but which would rate higher? One that is probably better known or one that is easier and likely seen alot more assents per year?

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55
B-Mkll wrote:Been getting more and more perturbed lately with the fact that three of the top ten "classic routes" according to the MP route guide homepage are in Eldo...
What do you expect, It wasn't climbinggunks.com...
B-Mkll Mackall · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 1,466
ViperScale wrote:Question is do you want to list the top 10 classics by which ones get climbed the most, or which ones are most well known?
will ar wrote:Classic is a pretty subjective term and it sounds like you're suggesting that we replace the current system with one or a small group of individuals' view on what is classic. How about we just change the list to the top 20 most popular routes or we see it for what it is-a tick based list of climbs. Why does MP need to be more authoritative? Why does there need to be a definitive list of the most classic climbs in the US. I use the star ratings at a particular crag to help guide my decisions of what routes to get on the first time I visit an area, but I'm probably not going to look at the top 20 list and make the decision for my next roadtrip based on it (actually I think I visited all those areas and did most of those climbs before I used MP very much). Not a bad route, but if it wasn't the easiest route of Devil's Tower and on the "50 Classics" list I'm not sure it would get so much attention.
So here's the thing. "great route" or "good climbing" and "classic" are not necessarily congruous and do not mean the same thing. The problem I have here is that they are being equated under the current system here on MP. So I think I would amend my original post here to posit some sort of alternative where we have a list of "must do" or "most climbed" or "highest rated" routes, and then touch on the "classic" routes of a given area in the area/route descriptions. To me, the word classic contains a historical weight specific to the climbing area or to climbing in general.

We're losing a lot of the history and lore of the areas represented on this site by allowing the current tick-based algorithm to essentially reassign classics.
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

you people take MP way too seriously. it's the internet fer christ sake. it has no more validity than a russian fake news story. The real sad thing is that when you are on the road you can rarely find a brick and mortar climbing shop that has the local guide book in print... thanks in part to the internet.. what you can find thanks to the inter net is a local climber eager to show you arround. the internet is both good and bad......

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200
Marc801 wrote: I see the entire "what is a classic" debate pointless; unless someone desperately needs a barstool style conversation.
Isn't that what MP essentially is?

I think talking about out experiences is a wonderful thing and a very human way to share knowledge. Kinda sets us apart from mere beasts.

Whether we choose to learn is another thing entirely.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
King Tut wrote: Isn't that what MP essentially is? I think talking about out experiences is a wonderful thing and a very human way to share knowledge. Kinda sets us apart from mere beasts. Whether we choose to learn is another thing entirely.
Oh, I agree with all that. It's when we get to mercilessly parsing something as intrinsically subjective and amorphous as "classic" that we start having arguments bordering on the absurd.

Seeing that there are "classics" I have done and don't think are classic at all, and others that aren't considered classic that I feel are; others that I haven't done that are also unquestionably classic; and yet still others that I haven't done that are called classic but really aren't........ all of which means I can't even agree with myself on what is and is not a classic, let alone invest time in a discussion about it.

BTW, High Exposure in the Gunks is the most overrated "classic" on the planet.
;-)
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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